WASHINGTON D.C. November 9th, 2020. President Trump fired his Sec. of Defense, Mark Esper, announcing he would be replaced with former Army Colonel Christopher Miller, the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, and that intriguingly another former Colonel, Douglas Macgregor, one of the most severe critics of America’s Global War on Terrorism within the military, would be his senior advisor.
With less than 3 months left in his presidency barring the revelation of some fantastical evidence of voter fraud, anti war activists and hawks alike would likely be irritated at the decision, the former due to the lateness of the hour in which two men who could truly help Trump end the “endless wars” he ran on ending have been appointed, the latter by the perceived “ruddless Pentagon,” and at a “destabilizing and reckless” firing moving into a presidential transition.
Both men are Army colonels who fought and commanded troops in their careers, Macgregor famously taking part in the tank battle against the Iraqi Republican Guard in 1991, and Miller serving as company-commander of U.S. special forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“…Chris will do a GREAT job! Mark Esper has been terminated. I would like to thank him for his service,” tweeted Trump after the nomination had been approved by the Senate.
Before Trump lost the November election, he was attempting to speed up the withdrawal process in Afghanistan, where currently around 3,200 U.S. troops remain, so that they could all be home for Christmas.
Anti-war sentiment ran high during Trump’s election in 2016, but year after year of what could be described as poor appointments, such as James Mattis, John Bolton, and Mark Esper, ensured that by 2020 the United States remained entangled in all of her current conflicts.
In a stunning interview with Defense One, former-Special Envoy to Syria James Jefferys detailed that he and his colleagues engaged in complete insubordination when given orders by Trump to withdraw troops from Syria.
“We were always playing shell games to not make clear to our leadership how many troops we had there,” Jeffrey said in the interview.
“What Syria withdrawal? There was never a Syria withdrawal,” Jeffrey said. “When the situation in northeast Syria had been fairly stable after we defeated ISIS, [Trump] was inclined to pull out. In each case, we then decided to come up with five better arguments for why we needed to stay. And we succeeded both times. That’s the story.”
Too little too late
In the eyes of Trump’s anti war base, who may have turned against him in pacifist states like Minnesota and Wisconsin, troop withdrawals from Germany, the addition of no new wars, and the pre-peace arrangement with the Taliban measured up as petty and hollow victories in the face of the escalating tensions with Iran and China, the loss of major nuclear forces treaties, continued support for the Saudis and Emiratis in the War in Yemen, and the assassination of General Soleimani.
With the appointments of Macgregor as senior advisor to the Sec. of Defense, and William Ruger as the Ambassador to Afghanistan, Trump seems to be working fairly hard to keep his Christmas deadline.
Miller too, for that matter, said as much in an address to the Department he found himself overseeing.
“Indeed, this fight has been long, our sacrifices have been enormous, and many are weary of war – I’m one of them – but this is the critical phase in which we transition our efforts from a leadership to supporting role. We are not a people of perpetual war – it is the antithesis of everything for which we stand and for which our ancestors fought,” he wrote, adding “all wars must end”.
Macgregor has long been critical of America’s War on Terror, especially Afghanistan, a place which he famously said we should “run” out of, rather than walk. In January, Macgregor explained in an interview with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson that: “there is one man, only one man who can take decisive action and end this. His name is Donald Trump. He promised to do that a long time ago. He’s disappointed a lot of us because he hasn’t”.
“He could stand up tomorrow and pull us out, but he needs to send everyone out of the Oval Office who keeps telling him, ‘If you do that and something bad happens, it’s going to be blamed on you, Mr. President,’” he said.
The clock is now counting down until Joe Biden takes office, who Binoy Kampmark details for the Center for Research on Globalization as having drawn much of the support from the “Republican defense establishment,” and the firings in the Pentagon would be a bitter bite to end the meal for all parties involved.
The War in Afghanistan is deeply unpopular among voters, and the American people would unlikely be able to tolerate Biden re-invading if indeed Trump succeeded in ending America’s involvement. Those like Macgregor, and Republican voters in 2016, who would have liked to have seen a lot more wars ended, will look back at the Trump term as largely a failure, even if the longest war in American history comes to an end.
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